Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by Mr John Cahill (CF 74)

I would like to help the committee with details of my own experience as a member of the charity Families Need Fathers. If you allow me to contribute in some way then that would be appreciated.

It is clear to me that there are many flaws in the Family Justice System and in some respects I had hoped that legislation discussed during the consultation period would have been more far reaching.

The impact of any legislation and amendment to the Children's Act will also need a culture change that enables all interested parties to see that the emphasis on both parents being involved with their children must be agreed without the need for litigation and adversarial proceedings in the Family Court.

I have seen hundreds of good people mothers, fathers and grandparents lose contact with their children. And the causes are common and directly related to a FJS that does not have a child's best interest as being paramount to the child's best interest.

Many members of the charity are faced with false allegations, delays, implacable hostility, poor judicial continuity.

Cafcass were mentioned as being inept and biased to the resident parent many times

An example of this bias.

Evidence of family holidays, birthdays, day trips and Christmas was available. The Cafcass did not want to see any of the video footage. When a report was entered by Cafcass into the court the officer stated that contact in the child's formative years was based on chance meetings encouraged by the mother.

Wishes and feeling reports are also conducted by Cafcass on children as young as 6 7 and 8 years old, Cafcass are fully aware of the influences that are used on the young children but do nothing to identify and act on the problem.

Now in many cases if you also take on board that the resident parents have also made deliberate and false allegations and then include the fact that all this can is being sponsored by a resident parents Legal Aid you will start to see why in proceedings the children's interest are not paramount but a hostile resident parent will find it very easy to purposely manipulate Cafcass the Family Court and the FJS.

Cafcas and The Judges will continue turn a blind eye instead of facing up to the real issues and acting accordingly. They are afraid to upset the resident parent in case she/he gets stressed or takes flight.

Enforcement is not effective or working.

Delays, give a hostile resident parent the time in public life to marginalize the non resident parent away from their own children. I have seen this evolve time and time again and it is scandalous and a total waste of everyone's life at what should be the best time of a child's development.

Once again it is imperative to stop parents entering the Family Court it is not in the child's best interest and believe me all the parents I see only ever wanted was to continue being a proud and supportive parent and enjoy the normal things that families in general take for granted.

I have found that even if the applicant parent was nether hostile and co-operated fully with all the professionals they still felt helpless and at a disadvantage with the FJS. Week by week month by month year by year loosing contact under the noses of Cafcass and the Judges was always on the horizon from the day an application to the court is filed.

You only need ONE hostile resident parent to undermine the whole system.

So the emphasis to create a culture change will need a presumption of shared care and parental agreements should become the norm after Divorce or separation.

Many parents and children have been let down by the FJS.

This consultation is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make significant changes to the Children's Act. The Family Justice System is flawed in so many ways, and it cost £50 billion tax payers pounds to keep it and all those that work for it oiled and the cogs turning.

The Judges need to make a clear unambiguous statement to any parent that Court is the last resort and contact arrangements need to be established and children must not be used as a weapon to beat the non resident parent, and leaving the public to foot the bill.

Mediation must be undertaken by both parents at the earliest opportunity and the culture change needs to start before families even consider mediation.

If families do need to go to court again there must be a 6month target completion agreement which place the emphasis on a feasible contact arrangement order..

Cafcass need to identify as early as possible,( I month) any parent who is not set on reaching a contact agreement that is feasible. Cases only become complicated when Cafcass do not act and the resident parent is left to be the dominant force in proceedings.

April 2013

Prepared 19th April 2013